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Raw Milk


Raw milk is a complete food that has not undergone any treatment like skimming, homogenization, pasteurization or ultrafiltration. It is a live food, and if stored properly and consumed within two to three days, it maintains all of its original nutritional properties: nutrients, vitamins, provitamins, enzymes and probiotic bacteria.

High-quality raw milk is rich in vitamins and bacteria that help improve the immune system of children and adults. Specifically, it contains vitamin A, important for sight, cellular development, antitumoral activity and immune defenses; and vitamin D, necessary for cellular activity, brain development, prevention of cancer and immune system development.

When milk is pasteurized, the vitamin content is partially reduced, especially in the case of vitamins B6, C and folic acid. Proteins are also altered, as are the fats, compromising the milk's biological value. In one study, pasteurization of mother’s milk in preterm infants resulted in a reduced fat absorption, a reduced bone growth, and a reduced protection of neonatal infection.


A European study (PARSIFAL), conducted in 2007 by a team from the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine in Basel, looked at 14,893 children aged between 5 and 13 living in rural areas of Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland, comparing the consumption of farm milk (raw or boiled) versus pasteurized shop milk. It showed that farm milk consumption was associated with a reduction in asthma (-26%), hay fever (-33%) and food allergies (-58%).

Furthermore, a more recent study published in 2011 (GABRIEL) investigated whether raw milk could make a difference versus boiled milk in the frequency of asthma and allergies. Selecting and analysing of 800 farm children the study shows that there is an additional protecting effect within the group of farm children who have been given raw milk. The strongest reduction was found in the risk of hay fever and asthma among the ‘exclusive raw milk drinkers’ (any unboiled milk). Just the boiling of the milk leads to a loss of the protective effect found in the exclusive raw milk drinkers.


The biodiversity of microflora present in raw milk also brings beneficial effects to raw-milk cheeses, which contain higher quantities of probiotic bacteria (Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lb. casei, Lb. plantarum) than cheeses made with pasteurized milk. Other studies have shown how cheese made from the milk of pastured animals, particularly those grazing in hilly or mountainous environments, contains many more "good" fats than cheese made from milk from intensively farmed, indoor-raised livestock. These good fats (like conjugated linoleic acid and omega-3s) help prevent cardiovascular disease and even arteriosclerosis. During pasteurization, these fats are almost completely destroyed. Omega-3s are often added to milk after pasteurization, but the result is significantly inferior than with raw milk from pastured animals.


Finally, in addition to the safety and healthiness of raw milk, it is worth remembering that raw milk is synonymous with respect for the environment and biodiversity, and is the best way to promote the work of small-scale herders and artisans who work mostly in marginal rural areas (mountains, hills, etc.).

Supporting raw-milk production means moving value from distribution to production, helping to differentiate supply and protecting consumers' right to choice.


Bibliography on the health benefits:

  • Article by Dr. J. R. Crewe, of the Mayo Foundation, forerunner of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, published in Certified Milk Magazine, January 1929:


Bibliography on the benefits of milk from pastured cows:


  • Quaderni Agricoltura della Regione Piemonte - n°46: Realization of haylage for the promotion of the Alpine meadow resources and the production of quality cheeses - Borreani, Tabacco, Masoero and others
  • Prague International Raw Milk Conference Paper: an insight on risks and benefits by Prof. Dr. Ton Baars

Other Resources:


1. Braun-Fahrlander, C., et al., Prevalence of hay fever and allergic sensitization in farmer's children and
their peers living in the same rural community. SCARPOL team. Swiss Study on Childhood Allergy and
Respiratory Symptoms with Respect to Air Pollution. Clin Exp Allergy, 1999. 29(1): p. 28-34.
2. Kilpelainen, M., et al., Farm environment in childhood prevents the development of allergies. Clin Exp
Allergy, 2000. 30(2): p. 201-8.
3. Riedler, J., et al., Exposure to farming in early life and development of asthma and allergy: a crosssectional
survey. Lancet, 2001. 358(9288): p. 1129-33.
4. Remes, S.T., et al., Allergen-specific sensitization in asthma and allergic diseases in children: the study
on farmers' and non-farmers' children. Clin Exp Allergy, 2005. 35(2): p. 160-6.
5. Waser, M., et al., Inverse association of farm milk consumption with asthma and allergy in rural and
suburban populations across Europe. Clin Exp Allergy, 2007. 37(5): p. 661-70.
6. Radon, K., et al., Farming exposure in childhood, exposure to markers of infections and the development
of atopy in rural subjects. Clin Exp Allergy, 2004. 34(8): p. 1178-1183.
7. Perkin, M.R. and D.P. Strachan, Which aspects of the farming lifestyle explain the inverse association
with childhood allergy? Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 2006. 117(6): p. 1374-1381.
8. Barnes, M., et al., Crete: does farming explain urban and rural differences in atopy? Clin Exp Allergy,
2001. 31(12): p. 1822-8.
9. Wickens, K., et al., Farm residence and exposures and the risk of allergic diseases in New Zealand
children. Allergy, 2002. 57(12): p. 1171-9.
10. Remes, S.T., et al., Which factors explain the lower prevalence of atopy amongst farmers' children? Clin
Exp Allergy, 2003. 33(4): p. 427-34.
11. Bieli, C., et al., A polymorphism in CD14 modifies the effect of farm milk consumption on allergic
diseases and CD14 gene expression. J Allergy Clin Immunol, 2007. 120(6): p. 1308-15.

Raw Milk

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